A COUNCILLOR who was punched in the face as she walked her dog said she was overwhelmed by the outpouring of support she had received since the attack.
Cllr Pauline Markham, who represents Darfield, was left battered and bruised when she was assaulted on a footpath at Broomhill Park at 2.30pm last Thursday.
She said she had been left shaken by the incident but touched by how many had sent messages and flowers, including Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham, Thornhill Care Home and staff at Darfield Museum.
“My house is like a florist,” said Cllr Markham. “Everyone has been so supportive.
“I couldn’t have asked for any more support, from my ward colleagues and Barnsley council to the people of Darfield and further afield.
“I can’t tell you how tremendous the support has been I feel humbled by it.”
Cllr Markham said the attack had left her scared to return to the spot where it happened and she would now walk her dog in more crowded spots outside the Darfield ward.
“People will stop and have a rant at you but no-one has ever resorted to violence before,” she said.
“It was a completely unprovoked attack just out of the blue.”
Recounting how the incident unfolded, Cllr Markham said she had been out with her husband and left him in the car in Broomhill while she took their dog for a walk.
While walking down a footpath, she said, she was approached by a man walking a Staffordshire bull terrier.
“I was looking more at the dog than at him but he wasn’t approaching aggressively,” she said.
“He came up to me and said: ‘Are you the effing councillor who’s got the field fenced off?’ and then just punched me. I didn’t even get the chance to respond.”
Cllr Markham said she and her ward colleagues had worked to have new fencing installed around a spot known as Inkerman’s Field after problems with off-road bikes and 4x4s.
“He hit me hard and I fell to the ground and couldn’t get up,” she said.
“After about five minutes I managed to get up and walk down the path and this lady came and helped me.”
The police and paramedics were called and Cllr Markham was taken to hospital, where doctors were concerned she may have internal bleeding but eventually cleared her to go home.
She said she had not been out since but would need to leave home to walk her dog.
“I’m not going anywhere I’m putting myself in danger.”
Cllr Markham’s ward colleague, Cllr Kevin Osborne, said: “This was an unprovoked attack on a slightly built woman in her late sixties.
“If you know this man, do your community a favour and give his name.”
Insp Kevin Jenkins said: “This is an awful incident which has left a woman needing hospital treatment and will not be tolerated.”
The attacker is described as white, about 5ft 7ins tall, of medium build and aged in his early 40s.
He spoke with a local accent and was wearing a black hoody and jeans. He had a brown Staffordshire bull terrier with him.
Anyone with information should call 101, quoting incident 432 of November 18.
Insp Jenkins added: “We are now acting quickly to try and find the man involved.
“If you have any information which can help the investigation, no matter how insignificant you think it may be, please get in contact and help us to find him.”